On Thursday James and Anane headed off out of London on a fast train to Bath Spa. We were on our way to hook up with Steve Faragher – Fairtrade coordinator for the Bath and North East Somerset district – who had put a great programme together to celebrate the Fortnight.
We were off to spend the day in Keynsham – a Fairtrade town between Bath and Bristol – with an extremely productive and energetic Fairtrade team. Keynsham boasts a flagship Co-op supermarket store – and that’s where we headed first. Rachel Ward – the Keynsham Fairtrade coordinator met us there, with members of her and Steve’s team. We were incredibly impressed with this store – light, airy and spacious and nicely designed – and its commitment to Fairtrade manifest everywhere. The cafe walls are decorated with a permanent display of lovely photographs of Fairtrade crops – including bananas, coffee, tea and cocoa, each with a short profile on where the Co-op sources their Fairtrade products from.
Anane and James with Councillor David Berlotti
A reception gathered – and we were joined by B&NES councillor David Berlotti, complete with splendid chains of office, and his young daughter Emelia perched on his hip. He welcomed Divine and the farmers and declared his commitment to Fairtrade now and for the future. We spoke of the Co-op being the first to commit to Fairtrade – and how integral it was to their philosophy – as was obvious in the newly designed store. We explained that several years ago the Co-op had made the decision to convert all its own-brand chocolate to Fairtrade, and had partnered with Divine to make it happen. The farmers told their story holding everyone captivated – and asked everyone to keep on buying their chocolate so that they could keep building better lives for themselves, their families and community.
The Co-op cafe then pulled out all the stops with a special chicken and rice lunch – not normally on the menu – but created exclusively for their Ghanaian guests.
James and Anane with the Co-op cafe staff in Keynsham
On to Chandag Primary School where over 200 children were gripped by the story of where cocoa comes from, and how Fairtrade is improving lives of cocoa farmers. We showed them the short film too – transporting everyone to Ghana for six minutes. There was a riot of questions afterwards “how long does it take for a pod to ripen”, “what makes the beans go brown”, “how long is it from when the pod is cut down to when the chocolate arrives here in the shops?”. There was a big moan when we had to wrap up – so many questions still to ask.
James and Anane outside Chandag School
Rachel had then arranged for us to meet Lesley Bowes – a local farmer in Keynsham Chewton. Lesley showed us her 40 acre farm which she manages alone – and where she breeds beef cattle, pigs and some sheep. James and Anane were really interested to meet her and talk about farming – size of land (Lesley’s would be a very big farm in Ghana – but here it’s categorised as small), price of fertiliser (all the farmers agreed costs were rocketing), and sustainability of farming for a local market. We met Lesley’s extremely handsome black Aberdeen Angus cows, and her very frisky and sociable pigs (James and Anane commented on how big the cows are here – even taking into consideration they were all pregnant!).
Anane and James with Lesley Bowes and her Aberdeen Angus cows
Lesley then treated us all to home made scones with cream and jam – perfect.
Back to the Co-op, where we sampled more chocolate, and met Keynsham Councillor Chris Davis, followed by an informal chat with the farmers. We thanked everyone for being such wonderful hosts and keeping Fairtrade top of the agenda in Bath and North East Somerset.
Steve then took us home for a really wonderful home-made Ghanaian supper – chicken in groundnut sauce – a triumph. With profuse thanks James and Anane headed off to bed. Posted by Charlotte